Not everyone is feeling the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster overhaul as NBA executives expressed skepticism in a recent survey conducted by ESPN. The Lakers acquisition of Russell Westbrook received the third-most votes for the worst offseason move via a panel of 10 NBA executives and scouts.
“The only other move to receive multiple votes was the Lakers acquiring Westbrook just before the draft,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps explained. “And while both of those voters conceded it might ultimately not matter in terms of preventing the star-studded Lakers from winning the title, they both disliked the fit of Westbrook and James on the court.”
The Westbrook move received two votes just behind the Bulls signing DeMar DeRozan along with the Pelicans’ entire offseason which both led the way with three each. One scout has their doubts but believes LeBron James will be able to get the best out of Westbrook.
“Look, I’m trying to give LeBron the benefit of the doubt on this,” a Western Conference scout told ESPN. “But given what they could’ve done, I don’t see that fit working out over the course of the season. I’m a huge Westbrook fan. I just don’t like the fit.”
NBA Exec: ‘I Don’t Think Westbrook Is a Terrible Addition’
Not everyone disliked the Westbrook move as the Lakers are still considered the favorites to win the West with five votes. The Nets were the overwhelming title favorites with six votes while the Lakers came in second with two. A Western Conference executive pushed back on the backlash over the Westbrook trade.
“I don’t think Westbrook is a terrible addition,” the executive noted. “The guy is super competitive and in a situation, I’m assuming, with LeBron where he won’t be taking the most shots on the team, unless teams are forcing him to take them. He’s the third-best player now.”
Pelinka on Westbrook: ‘I Think It Was an Opportunity to Make an Aggressive Move’
After the Lakers’ surprising first-round exit, the players and front office both emphasized their desire to keep the team’s core intact. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka hinted at only making minor changes over the offseason, but the acquisition of Westbrook started a series of events that led to the team entering next season with almost a completely new roster.
“Opportunity, I think it was an opportunity to make an aggressive move that we felt like bettered our probability to bring the 18th title to the Los Angeles Lakers,” Pelinka noted, per Silver Screen and Roll. “And when an opportunity like that comes, you’re thoughtful, you analyze it, you look at the pros and cons and then you make a decision. That’s what leaders are tasked to do and we felt like this was an opportunity to maximize our ability to do what we’re obsessed to do and that’s to bring an 18th title to this city.”
The Lakers were still labeled as one of the top title contenders in the survey despite some front office members not buying Westbrook’s ability to co-exist with James and Anthony Davis. Los Angeles’ roster also has a litany of additional former All-Stars including Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo.
“I’ll take the Lakers, but I don’t know how to feel about the West,” one Eastern Conference executive told ESPN. “There’s a lot of questions all the way around.”